DR WHO will never be quite
the same again for me...now that I know how the production team
create all those weird sounds and Dalek voices.
For they are, as I discovered this week, created by a synthesiser.
To the layman, this is an incredibly complex piece of electronics
which can vary considerably in size and in appearance - though many
of them look rather like pianos.
The idea that one of these amazing instruments could be made by a
16-year-old boy seems almost beyond belief.
But Michael Tillman, who lives in Westgate Road, Faversham, has
made one. It took him just a year and eight months.
Michael, who attends Ethelbert Road School, has been fascinated by
electronics ever since his early childhood. While still quite tiny,
his mother recalls, he would sit taking plugs apart - and putting
them back together successfully.
As the years went by he graduated to other things..."Just simple
things, really, like oscillators and time switches."
He attends technical college in Canterbury where he is studying
electronics in addition to preparing for 'O' Levels and CSE exams at
He wants to be an electronic engineer. But his future career may
never involve anything as big as the synthesiser which he completed
less than two weeks ago, after working on it from the age of 14.
Its design is based on something he found in a
magazine and he used wiring diagrams to help him in its
But the diagrams themselves take considerable skill and patients to
follow, and to make matters more difficult, Michael found that in
some cases, following the diagrams did not achieve the desired
result - or simply didn't work - so he improvised.
The synthesiser's outward simplicity is deceptive.
For although it has only a four-octave keyboard, it can be
electronically controlled to play
notes that are too low, or
high, to be heard.
In addition to rows of colourful knobs, the console has a "patchboard"
at one end which has 484 switches, all of which gives it infinite
It has taken all of Michael's pocket money, Christmas money, and
any other cash that came his way, to buy the various components
In all, it has cost £500 to build. But a similar instrument, if it
could be bought, would cost around £1500.
He has no plans to use it in a group, though some of today's top
groups make great use of the synthesiser as a lead
instrument and to create various effects.
Instead he will have great fun experimenting with it and
reproducing various sounds.
And his family has no complaints. He usually plugs in a set of
earphones so the sounds it makes are for his ears alone!